Mobile app in development to address plant health issues


GrowDoc is a mobile app company utilizing artificial intelligence (AI) systems for rapid identification of causes of unhealthy cannabis plants. Whether a plant is wilting or showing symptoms on the leaves, the New Brunswick-based company wants its products to be able to determine the cause and tell the user what needs to be done to fix it.

In order to develop the GrowDoc mobile application, the Agriculture & Environmental Technologies Innovation Centre (AETIC) supported a course-based project led by Bill MacDonald, course coordinator for the Commercial Cannabis Production Program at Niagara College. The research team, which included students from the Cannabis Production Science course, along with technologist Laurie Zuber, and technician Stanley Leggett, determined that photo and video documentation of common nutrient deficiencies would be required to help elevate the usability of the app.

To produce these images, nutrient deficiency studies were conducted in a controlled environment (the CannaBunker), while documenting the procedures to allow these studies to be replicated in the future. During the course of one term, the team conducted growing trials, removing only one nutrient at a time – either nitrogen, phosphorus or potassium – from the nutrient solution, and then observing and documenting how the cannabis plant reacted. Visual changes in the plant were documented using photos and video on a weekly basis. The images and videos collected will allow GrowDoc to improve their application AI accuracy and therefore create an improved product.

“GrowDoc is extremely grateful to be a part of this project, which will help us build first-of-its-kind cannabis technology, right here in Canada.”
~ Daniel Lirette, CEO, GrowDoc

Such trials would have been challenging for GrowDoc to conduct in-house, as they require substantial equipment and processes to ensure the experiment is controlled with minimal variables. Niagara College was able to provide the equipment, processes and personnel at just the right time.

“GrowDoc is extremely grateful to be a part of this project, which will help us build first-of-its-kind cannabis technology, right here in Canada,” notes Daniel Lirette, CEO of GrowDoc. “We were deeply impressed by the effort and quality of the experiments conducted in Niagara College’s ‘CannaBunker.’ The result was an extremely informative and well-executed study we integrated into our work.”

Lirette added that is was a pleasure to work with the whole team: “The benefits of having access to an educator like Bill Macdonald and his award-winning Commercial Cannabis Production program are difficult to put into words. The data we received proved how much passion and work ethic his students have to track, document, and share data in a timely matter.” 

To learn more about GrowDoc, visit them on the web at

To learn more about project successes for the AETIC group, visit the ncinnovation website.


Niagara College’s AETIC team works with private and public sector partners to develop innovative solutions to address today’s challenges in agriculture, local and sustainable food production, plant growth, horticulture practices, greenhouse operations, aquaponics and environmental management.

For more information, visit Agriculture & Environmental Technologies Centre.